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What we can learn from newspapers that don’t touch the floor during business hours

Newspaper vendor, Paddington, London, February...

Newspaper vendor, Paddington, London, February 2005 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I like it when there’s music in bathrooms. It keeps everyone on task, especially today when everyone brings in their smart phones and uses them to do business, well, while doing their business. It’s hard to carry on conversations, send emails, texts and edit documents, let alone take care of personal business you’re there for in the first place, when there’s music overhead of a more than sufficient volume.

A long time ago in places that seem distant now, there were no smart phones for people to tote along into bathrooms when they did their business. There was something that people who can remember this far back used instead as sort of an historical precursor to the smart phone: the daily newspaper.

People would take the business, entertainment or sports section into the bathroom with them. This was an extension of what some did at home. When they were at work and right around the same time every morning—whether it was first thing or mid-morning, they took their first 10 or 15 minute breaks not to do business, but to do their business. It was a real break from real business; not an opportunity to keep doing “business” while they were doing personal business.

Smart phones ended all of this, but even when they came to be, young people who carry them into bathrooms today have no idea of the sacrifices and scrutiny those newspaper users of yesteryear have undergone. These teepee pioneers if you will, some of them braver than others, were risk takers of the highest magnitude when all was said and done.

What I’m talking about is those who brought newspapers into restrooms and had the audacity to withstand the horrified looks and outcries of their office brethren upon returning to their desks and cubicles (with these same newspapers in hand).

“Oh my God!”

“Ick!”

“Bob, how could you!”

“Get your ass (no pun intended) back to the restroom and leave that newspaper there!”

There was only outrage if you got caught. Somehow, it was as if the newspaper you had walked in with had become this dirty, stinking reminder of filth in the bathroom you were just in. It was supposedly ripe with new germs that are obtained when walking into freshly cleaned bathrooms or bathrooms cleaned within the last four to six hours.

The majority of cleaning crews make their living during the evening or wee hours. They do a thankless job and they do a good job, too. It’s honest, hard work. Take it from someone who’s scrubbed his fair share of commodes other than my own. Sure, paper towels and other things find their way to the floor during the work day.

But, and this is a big butt (pun intended this time), I would argue that if someone brings the newspaper in to the restroom and it does not hit the floor and attain “germ” status, this does not make the guy who comes back with the paper in hand suddenly an uncouth, foul brute. No way. No how. And this is because of one reason, rule, guideline, whatever you want to call it, that we should put into play immediately if not sooner.

If the newspaper never touches the floor, it cannot be deemed dirty and germ-ridden by the holier than thou office mates the scorned worker returns to.

This stratagem should be employed in the modern, up to date world, but it isn’t.

We take a break and our smart phones accompany us (just like the paper did back in the day).

Completely different you say? Not altogether, no.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard guys drop their phones while on the can. Some have dropped them in the toilet and actually had the stones to retrieve them, dry them off with some toilet paper or a paper towel, and tote them back to their cubicles—easy peasy, no muss, no fuss, no problem a butt wipe can’t cover up or solve.

The newspaper is becoming extinct, but it never should have been ostracized for being a bathroom companion, nor more so than phones are today. We never question the dude who returns to his desk with phone in hand. Why do we blindly trust his phone not to be ridden with the very same germs that were considered so taboo to introduce to the workplace just a few short years ago via newspaper? Well, maybe not a few short years ago, but you get my point.

English: Smart phone box in Flashader

English: Smart phone box in Flashader (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I say we need those infrared lamp/light things that can detect smegma (when’s the last time you read that word? WordPress‘ spell check didn’t recognize it, go figure), bacteria and yes, microscopic particles of gasp, doody. And we should use them on people who bring their phones with them to the john and then return. In order for phones to be truly germ-free (as newspapers could never be?), we would also need some kind of disinfectant wipe to remove said smegma before running the phone under the infrared light source to confirm purity.

I know many of you may be thinking that to this point this post is about so much shit but it’s not. It’s really all about a shitty double standard and the fact smart phone cleanliness is taken for granted in the workplace.

All I have left to say is that whoever wants to give someone a supportive peck on the cheek after their long, hard, work day better be eminently aware of the possibility that a less than pristine smart phone was pressed up against said cheek a good portion of the work day.

Now go and read your newspapers. They’re easier on the eyes as well as the cheeks.

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